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Tatiana Vorontsova
Studying foreign customs.
Tue Jul 3, 2018 13:51

Tatiana knew how to dance, of course. It was part of a proper young lady’s education, a form of exercise which was also supposed to support grace and self-control (this had not worked out as well as Mama might have hoped in Tatiana’s case), there were traditions that required girls to dance, and it could even be fun. She was not, however, sure she knew how to dance like an American girl.

Dancing at home was an energetic affair. The bals blancs were more sedate, but traditional dances and the rumors of what went on at the bals roses - oh! She could hardly imagine some of the American girls she had seen keeping up. Sometimes Mama and Papa didn’t return home until four in the morning during the Season – and never mind that Mama did sit down half the time now. Tatiana had heard that when Mama was a young woman, she had been one of the best dancers in St. Petersburg – that she had danced so well with Papa at the bals roses and the suppers at the Restoran Gavana shortly after their marriage that other men had wanted to fight Papa over her. She must have been able to keep time very well and shown marvelous posture and proficiency for them to get that animated over dancing – Mama said that dancing was a good way to show strength (the mazurkas were very fast, and the khovorod required everyone to move together just so or they’d bump into each other) and discipline, but that ladylike behavior and good taste were more important factors for a young man looking for a wife, so her dancing must have been really really strong and disciplined.

American girls, however, were different. Jasmine was fun, and Ingrid was fun. Tatiana had at times been under the impression that many of the others were frail, and she had worried for them occasionally – her sister Anya really was frail, she had had a complaint with her lungs when she was a baby and she still lost her breath easily, but she had discipline to a point it was held up to Tatiana as an example: she would complete her part in a khovorod for the town festivals and attend the balls she was expected to attend as a young lady no matter how tired she was afterward. At the Bonfire, Tatiana had not seen anyone dance (what was the purpose of setting a great big fire if no-one was going to perform a circle dance around it?) and one never really saw most of the American girls exerting themselves at all. So what did they do at a ball?

Ask for Ms. Adelaide, the sign had told her. French name. The French danced well – quadrille, a proper dance for an unmarried young lady, that was a French word. Now if she could just say it correctly….

When the room became a dance room, there was a portrait of a grey-haired woman. Tatiana looked at her. “You Msss Adlaid?” she asked.

The portrait hesitated, apparently not initially sure of what she had said, but then nodded and smiled. “Yes, dear,” she said. “How can I help you?”

“I want to know how American girl dances,” said Tatiana, and steeled herself for a long afternoon.

  • Dance lessonsDH Skies, Tue Jun 26 09:28
    A few weeks before the ball, posters had appeared in all the common rooms, reminding the students that the portraits of the MARS dance room were available to offer instruction. The posters had been... more
    • Studying foreign customs. — Tatiana Vorontsova, Tue Jul 3 13:51
    • Why can’t you be real?Heinrich Hexenmeister, Tue Jun 26 12:28
      Heinrich had thought he had a pretty rounded education. His tutors taught him practical things like reading and math, and cultural things like music and dance and literature. He’d even had English... more
      • How about me instead?Sylvia Mordue, Fri Jun 29 10:47
        Sylvia had ordered a perfectly lovely gown for the ball, one which would compliment her Christmas jewellery nicely, and she was very much looking forward to getting all dressed up in her beautiful... more
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